Sursy Series 003 | MARCH 3, 2019
A self-taught painter, Lauren Williams was first inspired by a blank wall in her dining room: the space where she hung her very first wall hanging back in 2014. Flash forward to today, and she's created hundreds of designs that hang in homes, restaurants, hotels and businesses across the world.
I first became a fan of Lauren Williams Art + Home after finding her on Instagram, and ever since have been mildly obsessed with following along as she creates collection after collection of incredible Canvas with Movement® tapestries. Though there seems to be a flood of fiber artists who attempt to emulate Lauren’s designs, this artist, mother, and all around badass business woman is the pioneer for this unique form of art.
A self-taught painter, Lauren Williams was first inspired by a blank wall in her dining room: the space where she hung her very first wall hanging back in 2014. Flash forward to today, and she’s created hundreds of designs that hang in homes, restaurants, hotels and businesses across the world. I was thrilled to get to interview Lauren to learn more about her background, entrepreneurial journey, and creative process to share in this second installment of our Sursy Series!
Tell us a little about yourself!
Hi, my name is Lauren Williams, and I'm an artist, wife, and mom of three boys based in Dallas, TX. I make large scale fiber art that I call Canvas with Movement® tapestries. Making art everyday from my home studio is a blessing that feels my soul.
What was your first job?
My first job was in high school where I worked at a tanning salon. When I answered the phone I had to say: "For a tan that's nice, tan in Paradise! This is Lauren, how can I help you?"
I remember my dad would call just to hear me say the line, laugh, and hang up.
First memory you have of being creatively inclined?
I've always had the urge to make. My first memory of creating is when I was 6 years old and needed a paintbrush. I grabbed a twig from a tree and trimmed cat hair from my cats tail. I taped the hair onto the twig so I could paint! How weird is that?!
You and your husband have started multiple businesses now; what advice would you give to those just starting out?
If it's possible, keep your day job while you're starting your passion business, so there's still no financial stress. When there's pressure to make money right off the bat it's hard to allow your ideas to foster and organically evolve into a smart business. This is not easy. It requires all-nighters, working on weekends, skipping your favorite TV shows to work, and even vacations and dinners with friends get pushed back on the priority list. There's a sacrifice in starting a business, and you have to be willing to do that.
How is it working directly with your husband?
Working with James has been a really natural part of our relationship. We started dating while building a yoga studio in LA. We knew if we could work through that process together we could totally navigate life together! Entrepreneurship is something we both have a love for, so it can get tricky when it's all we want to talk about! We struggle with shutting down and not working 24/7 because it's such a shared passion. Making time to talk about the business is really important though and we are always aiming to be better at that.
How did you guys meet?
We met at a yoga studio in LA...the most cliché California introduction, right?! We were both on hiatus from our production jobs, and were trying to find balance by adding yoga into our lives, coincidentally. He taught a morning class and asked me to go to the next one. It was so early I stood him up accidentally by sleeping through my alarm. I made his next class though, and we have been together ever since!
You first started your company as BOHO by Lauren in 2015. When did you clearly see the business start to take off?
When it made financial sense for my husband to leave his ob to help me full time. That was only in January of 2017. Before that, I saw success and was happy with the organic growth and response people had to my artwork, but when James joined full-time we reached a level in the business that felt very validated.
What's one thing that's surprised you about working for yourself, and as an artist in particular?
How emotional it can be. As an artist you explore so many emotions in creating art, and navigating those emotions while running a business can be tricky and exhausting.
What artists inspire you? Lately? In the past?
Henrik Uldalen. His ability to create such realistic pieces, and then to have the confidence to smear globs of paint on top of the beautiful, detailed painting is super risky and brave. It captures my attention every time I see his work on Instagram!
Jackson Pollock. He's the pioneer of expressing the physical ability to step into his paintings. It was more about the physical making of his art than the end result but the end result is so incredible. His commitment to the vision, despite his critics, and to ultimately have created an entire style of painting through his intuition and listening to himself is inspirational.
Georgia O'Keefe. She's the mother of modern art. I typically draw my inspiration from nature like she did, and her ability to blend colors parallels how I tend to blend dyes in my tapestries. She paved the way for women artists int he modern art culture and her confidence to create provocative art was revolutionary.
Laura Naples + Kristen Giorgi of (NG Collective) are my newest inspirations. I love the feminine approach to their art but it's not girly. It's very easy and mature; the femininity of their work demands to be taken seriously and I love that. I love how they use shades of nudes and pinks, with slim lines and texture in each stroke. The simplicity paired with depth of texture is just so beautiful in each of their pieces.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Right now I really like Sylvan Esso. I will always love Radiohead and Coldplay. Tom Petty is also a go-to for the studio, and I'm always up for anything in the jazz or blues genre. I typically name tapestries after songs or verses in a song. On photo shoot days, when I get a completed piece on the wall for the first time, we usually have music blasting and that helps with naming a piece. A tapestry can find the perfect name if a great song is playing at the same time.
What's your favorite meal?
Anything my husband makes me that I don't have to cook is my favorite meal! However, lobster with melted butter is really my favorite.
Mexican Sugar is my favorite local restaurant. I always get the mesquite grilled pork chop with a watermelon margarita - so good!
If you could have lunch with any celebrity, who's at your table?
Joanna Gaines! I really love her. She's a boss mom. She's a successful, creative, entrepreneur who seems to have found a really great balance in business and family.
What motivates you to pursue art as a career?
My husband. He was the first one who ever called me an artist and he encourages me daily to embrace my talent and the creative process.
Do you have a mantra to live by? Something that keeps you grounded in purpose?
What's constantly in my mind and my heart is "have faith over fear."
My favorite bible verses are Matthew 6: 26-27: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Cn any one of you by worrying adda single hour to your life?"
There's definitely an element of fear in sharing your artwork with people. Having faith that God has given me a talent to share, and is blessing my business and family through my art, is what keeps me going and grounded, It pulls me through big projects or commissions that I feel intimidated by, and keeps me from comparing myself while creating.
If you weren't a business owner + artist, what would you be doing?
If I wasn't creating art, I'd probably be helping my husband with marketing and sales for his company...and making art on the side! Ha!
Art is a part of my blood - I'll definitely always find a way to do it.